Seniors reclaim sexuality

Seniors A GoGo member, Amalia, is one of a number of seniors who share their experiences about intimacy and sexuality. Rebekah Jarvis photo

If grandma ever started talking about her sex life during Sunday dinner, you’d likely cover your ears, close your eyes and imagine your happy place. But sexuality is as important to the over 60 set as it is to anyone else. The trouble is nobody has been willing to admit it until now.
A group of seniors have joined Seniors A GoGo in order to shatter the silence surrounding sex and intimacy between people in their age group. They perform monologues on topics ranging from sex and prophylactics to love and the power of touch.
Nicole Hergert, community development counselor at the Calgary Sexual Health Centre, headed Seniors A GoGo after reading a statistic reporting a significant rise in sexually transmitted infections among people over the age of 50. To her, this statistic was a red flag that seniors needed sexual education and moreover, a voice.
“I think it’s really important that everyone understands and is comfortable with sexuality as they age,” says Hergert. “It’s all well and good if seniors feel good about sexuality. But if they go to the doctor, and the doctor won’t give them any information or talk to them about it, we haven’t really done our job.”
Dawn Nealon, a social work student with an interest in sexual health, says the group’s purpose in reclaiming their sexuality is extremely valuable.
“(Seniors) weren’t taught anything about sex when they were young, and now that they’re old, everyone assumes they don’t care enough about sex to be caught up to speed,” says Nealon. “They’re sort of the forgotten generation sexually.”
Hergert says the messaging about sexuality has changed dramatically since today’s mature adults were learning how to think about sex in their younger years, especially for women.
“For older generations, sex was something that women didn’t want to talk about. It was something women didn’t want and didn’t enjoy, but they did it because it was their job and their duty as a wife,” says Hergert.
Vera, 77, a member of Seniors A GoGo who would rather not include her last name, says her sexual education was all but nonexistent when she was a young woman, but she’s finding joy in discovering sexuality now. She wrote and performs two monologues in the show, and says she notices the older members of the audience enjoying her honesty and humour about sexuality. “I can see the smiles on their faces, and I know they’re never too old to learn,” says Vera.
The Seniors A GoGo tour runs until Dec. 9. For details go to calgarysexualhealth.ca.

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